With a line-up comprised of established veteran players Galvin “Meracle” Kang Jian Wen, Kim “QO” Seon-yeop, Chong Xin “Ohaiyo” Khoo, Djardel Jicko B“DJ” Mampusti, and Kim “Febby” Yong-min, many have dubbed the roster the SEA Super Team.
It’s a hefty mantle to carry, but it is justified. To find out more about how the team feels about the moniker, how they came to be recruited into Fnatic, and their thoughts on the ever-changing Dota 2 rosters in the pro scene, I spoke to team manager Eric “ReiN” Khor and position 2 player QO.
According to ReiN, the core teamfirst formed in 2015. At the time, they were amateurs, playing Dota 2 at a local internet cafe and consistently winning qualifiers for tournaments. Their success eventually attracted the attention of sponsors. While several organizations approached them, Fnatic in particular stood out.
“There were other offers that were better, but I felt that Fnatic was more sincere in their approach, although they offered a little bit less,” ReiN told me. “And they were very professional in their conduct, so that’s why we decided to go with them. It was based on their history as well. Everything was taken into consideration, really.”
“I heard that Fnatic was one of the biggest [esports] organizations in the world,” QO added. “I liked two things [about the offer]. One was the good pay with good conditions. The second thing was the team power that enables them to get the oldest, good players. I was really happy to hear the roster changes in Fnatic, and I was really, really willing to join as soon as I heard the name of the players.”
Despite the pressure of the SEA Super Team label, QO remains confident in living up to the name.
“I count myself as a super player anyway,” he said. “So there isn’t much pressure. But the only hard thing we are counting on at the moment is probably team synergy. Because if you are playing with the oldest five good players…everyone wants to play their own way. I think we’re kind of beginning to understand each other so we can be a really good team.”
Assembling a team of five experienced players comes with the potential for team conflicts, but according to ReiN, this was intentional.
“Surprisingly, the oldest personalities and ego was taken into consideration when we made this latest roster,” he said. “We actually considered a lot of these factors, and we don’t want any conflict or internal problems in the team, or at least we want to try and minimize it.
“Right now I think we have a very peaceful team. They’re all very good friends, and they’re all communicating to each other on a daily basis, outside of the game, inside of the game, and we try to do things together as much as possible. I think they’re really enjoying their time together with each other.
“I think QO can attest to this,” he said, laughing.
In the Dota 2 pro scene, teams frequently announce new players and rosters. Valve doesn’t regulate player movements, aside from a short lock period prior to Major tournaments. Even if teams forego this they only lose their invite to the event, but can still enter via open brackets.
“The whole reason why players change a lot of teams is because they can, really,” ReiN said. “While the Major system is there, it’s not really very complete. It’s not like LCS, where teams are sort of forced to stay together.
“Players obviously want to look out for their best interests, so they would always try to change to see what situation suits them best and where they’re most happy. I think it’s very normal because it’s not very controlled.”
“Mostly I agree with Eric,” QO added. “For example, every three months there’s a Major tournament. And every tournament, teams that have a good performance, they go together. But teams that don’t really have good performance, even the team with the high performance, still believe they can do better with other teammates. I think this is the reason why people are always looking for new girlfriend type of thing.”
When asked if he shared that ideology, he replied, “I’m always into one girlfriend.”
With the Kiev Major starting this week, we had to know who Fnatic was watching out for. QO revealed he would be keeping a close eye on OG and “some Chinese teams.”
“I love how OG has been stable in playing every tournament, and I think it’s good for Chinese teams to play this meta. These two are my favorite points of view,” he said.
He also spoke positively of the game’s current meta, saying, “I like how Dota 2 is more based on the teamfights now… I like the teamwork things where they use each other’s trust and spells. I like this part.”
The Kiev Major main event will take place this weekend, where 16 teams will compete for a prize pool of $3 million. The main event will take place on April 27-30 at the National Palace of Arts Ukraine. There, the team that finishes in first place will score a cool $1 million in prize money. It will be the second major tournament in the 2016-2017 competitive Dota 2 season, following The Boston Major 2016.